Time for some more dark fantasy and paranormal romance! In which I look at Sword Chronicles 3: Child of Ash by Michaelbrent Collings, and Wyrd Love 4: Alchemy’s Hunger by Cynthia Diamond. Really though, anything by either of these two is well worth a look; they are among those authors who haven’t let me down yet!
Title: The Sword Chronicles 3: Child of Ash
Author: Michaelbrent Collings
With the thrilling conclusion of this powerful series, we follow in breathless suspense as what seemed to start out as traditional fantasy, then becoming epic fantasy, then expanding into almost a fantasy-meets-superheroes utopia-turning-dystopia, to its final phase … in which the true origins of troubled Ansborn and its people, and their mysterious gods, are revealed.
The central figures in these books are the Gifts, those who have various special abilities. The majority fall into categories: for instance, the Strongs who tend to be slightly built but possess incredible physical strength … or the Patches, who can heal others. But there are also the Greater Gifts, rarer, more unique.
Sword, the main character of the trilogy, is a Greater Gift, able to use any melee weapon with uncanny accuracy and skill. Her struggling beginnings in the Kennels where she fought for survival to the amusement of the crowds, and her rise and training to join the most elite Blessed Ones, have seen her through good times and bad, brought her hardship and victory and love and loss.
Now, with her entire world seeming about to literally come to an end – disasters, plagues, deaths, destructions – she and a few others decide that the only thing to be done is break the ultimate rule, descend from Ansborn, and confront the gods or whatever forces dwell below.
What follows is a desperate race from several viewpoints, including that of a couple of exceptionally dangerous Greater Gifts with other ideas. Everything any of them have ever stood for gets challenged along the way. Priests lose their faith, families are torn apart. And when they DO discover what’s behind it all, harsh truths are poised to shatter their very reality.
All of it, of course, done with the author’s undeniable skill with both story and plot. Even when you think you know what’s going to happen, what almost HAS to happen in terms of heroic journey and all the tropes, Collings throws in curveballs and surprises, ultimately delivering an ending that hits all the right unexpected yet satisfying notes.
Title: Alchemy’s Hunger
Author: Cynthia Diamond
Book Four of my favorite smut-mongering minx’s Wyrd Love series widens the scope of her sexy world … instead of the paranormal romantic adventures of the Constance sisters this time, we get to see the other side of bad-boy darkmage Tony Harris’ story.
He was once as close as a brother to anything the three sisters knew, closer than a brother to one of them, loved matriarch Cybil Constance more than his own parents, and was essentially one of the family. Then, swayed by a sinister cabal, he ended up causing Cybil’s death, earning the sisters’ vengeful hatred.
Taking place concurrently with the third book (Dryad’s Vine), we can now find out what Tony was up to when he got summoned against his will to pay off an old debt, and who the quirky mystery woman with him was.
Turns out, Tony bitterly regrets his earlier actions and is determined to repair the damage, even if it means risking his life and altering time. To do that, he needs power. A lot of power. The kind of power only a rare talent known as a Conduit can provide. Which is where the quirky mystery woman comes in.
Faith Conway comes across as a chaotic scatterbrained goofball: a clutterer, an eccentric dresser with a thing for blanket forts, and a total Potterhead. Below the surface, though, she’s smart and clever, runs a successful business, and is recovering from an abusive relationship. She never knew anything about the real magical world, let alone her place in it as a Conduit. Needless to say, instead of freaking out, she’s utterly thrilled.
Except, well, the real magical world also has its very real dangers. Tony has made a lot of enemies, who are equally determined to make him pay for breaking the cabal with a fate worse than death. He also never counted on falling for Faith, leading him to face a terrible choice between goals.
Packed with magic, action, conflict, and lots of sexy sexy sex, it’s another winner! Now I need Book Five.